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Reining In Brainstorming Sessions

TXTS4 Leaders List

Reining In Brainstorming Sessions

Kimberly St Clair

Brainstorming has received a bad rap in some circles due to widespread misuse. Tom Heffner argues for a reset of the seven rules for effective brainstorming sessions, which are quoted below:

1.       Defer judgment

2.       Encourage wild ideas

3.       Build on the ideas of others

4.       Stay focused on the topic

5.       One conversation at a time

6.       Be visual

7.       Go for quantity


Heffner also suggests inviting participants to brainstorm on post-it notes, which provides for:

  • Greater democratization of ideas (the boss’s idea is part of everyone else’s thoughts)

  • Ideas can be clustered and synthesized

We encourage you to share Heffner’s seven rules with your staff and try them out the next time a team comes together to creatively problem solve.


Heffner, T. (n.d.). 342: Getting Creativity to Work with Thomas Heffner. Retrieved September 11, 2018, from